arcana.computer

Games

Follow changes over time via RSS
/rss/games.xml

I like to play video games!

As you'll probably realize quickly, I'm a sucker for JRPGs and the RPG genre in general, but even within those confines I'm fairly normcore (lots of Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem, and Pokemon — though maybe describing my RPG tastes as normcore is showing that I care too much about the niche.)

(Also, be warned: my writeups will probably contain spoilers.)

Filter this list
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/89cfb80cba6170512709f3d4d1b454da/5d629231/220px-Super_Mario_3D_World_box_art.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=c96deb017546810f
Super Mario 3D World
Platforming

This was comfort food. It was not as great as Super Mario Odyssey, but it felt like someone played Super Mario World and said "okay, what if we updated the graphics and just made it as fun as possible?" It was a little same-y and the difficulty wasn't quite there, but I certainly had a good time playing. (It also doesn't outstay its welcome, a thing for which I am always grateful.)

✭✭✭✭
1/22/2022
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/7cf7aff5849bd168b238670d76b6d2bc/223d38b3/Shin_Megami_Tensei_V.png?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=3462456213ddbc4b
Shin Megami Tensei V
JRPG

This game poses a simple question: how good is a game with excellent gameplay and terrible plot?

And make no mistake — the gameplay is excellent. This is the most fun I think I've had in an open world JRPG, and the first ten hours were spent agog with joy. The combination of the dangerous power curve for which SMT is infamous and a truly open world where exploration is both dangerous and valuable is so, so, so much fun. You're spending around two thirds of your time traipsing across one of four open world areas that grow in complexity & difficulty — culminating in the final area which feels like a true test, an area where you have to spend a solid two hours running away from everything in sight and gleaning power-ups until you can start to challenge some of the enemies within.

The problem, then, is the plot. Note that I say terrible. Not "completely non-existent", like with a roguelike; not pleasantly mediocre, like Steamworld: Quest ↗ or Link to the Past ↗. The game's plot is bewildering and clearly half-written; entire plot arcs build and resolve in the span of a single cutscene. You do not care about any of these characters; none of their actions cohere. The alignment system (an SMT mainstay) is not just obtuse but pointless; it exists in a vacuum, and the One Big Choice you make only influences the last 5% of the game.

I had fun playing the game, even if I was happy to be done with it (to be honest, most 50 hour JRPGs instill the same effect in me!) But play it if you want to level up a bunch of demons and have fun JRPG gameplay. Ignore it if you want to actually care about the plot.

✭✭✭✭
1/1/2022
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/7d1c3592ba7be8f067f2cb62b3987de0/18a94e8e/cave.png?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=40d14371a30bf36d
Cave Story

For a game that is mostly talked about in terms of influence (having kicked off the indie developer revolution, or at least made a significant dent into that reality) than gameplay these days, this was... really quite nice! The core gameplay feels incredibly good and polished, and the parts of it that felt dated (a four-boss gauntlet with no saving in between to end things, for example) I don't think are really ascribable to the "indie" nature of the game so much as the tendency in the last five or so years to emphasize ergonomics and tight gameplay loops. (This is why Celeste was so good; incredible difficult and incredible ergonomics came from a fundamental sense of respect for the player.)

What is enduring to me about the game is the setting and aesthetic. Everything feels like — well, perhaps calling it a dream is a cliche. Maybe a fable? A slightly off-kilter bedtime story. The game does such an excellent job with hints and implications and, yes, vibes. The dialogue and settings and pixel-work is sharp enough to be evocative but sparse enough to let you fill in a lot of the blanks yourself, and what I came away from the game with was a since of having gone someplace in particular, not unlike waking from a particularly odd and lucid dream.

✭✭✭✭
10/10/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/25f8380cb9e4c0dd6e696fbf0ee3eb17/b8078c98/swqw.jpeg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=78cfafa35919d368
Steamworld: Quest
JRPG

"Indie gem" is a cliche that I've grown to hate across genre & format these days, but this — this is an indie gem!

It is perhaps biomechanically engineered to appeal to me. Cute/trivial JRPG story (which importantly doesn't even try to take itself seriously, but has some cute script moments); ~fifteen hour runtime (you could probably bust it out to twenty if you go the completionist route, which I did not do); incredibly fun gameplay based on cards.

The last point is really how it got me. I am a sucker for any and all deckbuilder-esque games now that I'm a full-blown Slay The Spire addict, and I think this game got so much of it right. I felt like I really could build a wide swath of decks, and the party composition was interesting enough to incentivize me to experiment and tinker quickly.

I definitely have some quibbles, mostly on the balance side:

  • Debuffs are incredibly powerful on both sides, which made for some very odd difficulty spikes. An encounter with three monsters who could all poison you is an order of magnitude more difficult than the chapter's boss.
  • The ultimate joy of both deckbuilders and JRPGs is getting to break the game over your knee which...never seemed to happen? Like, the game felt balanced and I felt rewarded for my final choice of party & deck composition but with the heavyweight, high-cost cards coming at the end I was waiting for a moment where suddenly you could go infinite or have lots and lots of energy and it never really happened.
  • Accessories and equipment felt...much less impactful than they could have been, largely due to short supply from the shop.

But these are all quibbles! This was a very fun game: it did it's thing well and didn't outstay it's welcome. I loved it.

✭✭✭✭✭
10/1/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/686b49b1f24c8949362d7af9251da4fd/6b385081/gcMVHVG82HnDo0A6WHl6WR6H.png.jpeg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=a69d2742edf851db
Disco Elysium

Wow, this game is tremendous.

I debated a lot whether or not I wanted to give this a score of 10 or 9. There are a lot of arguments for a 9: the game is, frankly, a little bit janky, with weird looping dialogue options and broken fast travel and some very rare moments where you can see through the illusion that the game tries so desperately to construct.

But the world and the writing is just so good that it overcomes any possible trepidation. I have literally never laughed as often in any media as I did playing this game (as Haley can likely attest.) The world is beautiful and well-realized. The core plot — a noir at heart — is really fun, even if the final act is a little bit of a cop-out (no pun intended.)

The core gameplay is... extant? The dialog checks and branching logic were more of a useful delivery mechanism than anything fun in of itself. I want to play through the game again at some point, but I think some time away would be good.

But man, the writing. 10/10 for the writing alone

✭✭✭✭✭
7/19/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/f096acbfcf8692be458087935b4a2410/85b32869/bastion.jpeg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=3abbb8343384fb63
Bastion
Supergiant2011

First off, the game is great. It’s great on its own merits, and it’s also great as a clear spiritual predecessor to Hades — which is a better game. They share so much blood: the core gameplay (which Hades does better, with more customization, depth, and overall snappiness); the commitment to aesthetic (which I actually think works better in Bastion, even if the craftsmanship of Hades is better). The flow of understanding a specific biome’s corpus of enemies, mastering them, and then getting pushed onto a new biome. The focus on ambient narration over cutscenes. It’s all there!

It’s tough to like a work of art even as you recognize it as inferior to some later, more mature work of art. I think Bastion makes it easy. Bastion’s core plot and theme is beautiful and it succeeds on what it wants to do (you can even argue that Hades is a continuation of the same concept of escapism vs. acceptance!). Bastion is fun, even if it’s shallow. Bastion is short, and never outstays its welcome.

Even if you have already played Hades, you should definitely play Bastion.

✭✭✭✭✭
6/12/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/ba6dffefd86b24d49fa880853fd65343/686d47b3/tomtom.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=f92d4a482dc828cb
Trials of Mana
JRPG

Oh, this game should have been catnip for me! I love ARPGs. I have been waiting literally 15 years to play this game. I wanted something pleasant and smooth brain to hack away with in the late evenings.

And there were good parts. The character progression system was solid; the environments were pretty fun, albeit very of-its-time. The combat got repetitive, but was by no means bad.

But the bad parts were deep. The game ran poorly on Switch; lots of cutscene jankiness, lots of loading screens. The combat difficulty was oddly spiky (the final boss of the game pales in comparison to "the wall boss", which is bizarre.) And the paint-by-numbers shop and town system felt... perhaps true to the SNES era, but utterly devoid of life for what I expect now.

It was short (around fifteen hours), and I have no desire to play again with the three characters I didn't use.

✭✭
6/5/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/21b53c030113f3388d3c2662a6159063/e3054c36/celeste.png?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=cf19798e315789c1
Celeste
Platforming
✭✭✭✭✭
4/18/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/f742f0ddbb0cc3a76ae144c32b523808/9d7c22cc/Gnosia-Cover-Art-JP-Switch.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=efd6eba8b77ed8fe
Gnosia
Visual Novel

This game was really fun — the word inventive is what immediately comes to mind. It is single-player Mafia (also known as single-player Among Us, or single-player Werewolf, or...) with a sci-fi twist: you are literally trapped in a timeloop, and the evil demons (the equivalent of impostors/mafiosos/etc.) need to be ultimately excised.

The core loop is great: I mean, it’s great if you love Mafia (I do!) and the central narrative is really fun and gripping in a way that I wasn’t expecting to work as well as it did. The central plot is legitimately good, and the trappings of meta-progression kept me hooked for the one hundred and sixty “loops” I had to play.

The game itself dragged towards the end: you get really good at Mafia (which is a testament to both the dangers of stats eliminating difficulty and how well the game gives distinct personalities to all its characters) which means there’s a lot of rote and repetitive dialogue as you test out different combinations in order to unlock plot.

But it doesn’t outstay its welcome and is a really good “auxiliary game”, so to speak, as something to play as a break from something meatier. A very solid diversion!

✭✭✭✭
4/17/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/c1466ba8d2a2080d657697c126b2d6d1/7ac8676c/bd2.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=4d84f90e30bd95a3
Bravely Default II
JRPG
  • Obvious tuning and quality-of-life issues. Magic was consistently underwhelming; the sidequest system was largely annoying padding; performance was just straight-up bad.
  • Lots of clever ideas that didn't quite bear fruit. I really liked the idea of weight as a system but it culminated in me just not really caring about equipment after the first few chapters, for instance.
  • I went in assuming some meta-ness, since I had played the original, and the two ways it bore out (I will not spoil them because it is unnecessary) were cool, but not quite as cool as the predecessor.
  • The game was gorgeous. I understand not liking the player models but the backgrounds were amazing.
  • Lots of folks did not like the dungeons, but I liked the fact that I could actually get lost, and I had to evaluate my own personal heuristic for exploration vs. getting the hell out of dodge.

At the end of the day, it was flawed and I was happy to be done with it (I didn't deal too much with the postgame) but it was a JRPG with a job system that I liked and had a

✭✭✭✭
3/28/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/439138a6bc1a8382938b35cd2eb21126/ef7b31dd/613RaFWoUUL__SL1000_.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=a3694b0a11956fa9
Forager
Crafting

This game is a classic empty calories idle game, except with bits of Minecraft mixed in. Numbers go up, there are tons of things to do, the core gameplay loop feels incredibly addicting until... it doesn't. Some of this is endemic to the genre; some of it is self-inflicted. The Switch port has a number of really serious flaws (load time and slowdown in the late game is horrendous, and I'm someone who isn't really sensitive to such things); crafting time for late-game materials seems intentionally user-hostile, and combat never really evolves into something meaningful or interesting.

All of that is negative, but I can't deny that I played this game ravenously for a solid ten or fifteen hours or so before the disenchantment grew. So if you're looking for a good way to fritter away a week, this fits the bill!

✭✭✭
1/18/2021
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/dd82d2b809e688a68f4807ae52c0473d/bc85e89b/hades.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=f54903d84f13bbd8
Hades

I don’t think I have anything interesting to say about Hades that hasn’t been already said by many of its (justifiably) adoring fans. It’s a legitimate contender for GOTY, and deservedly so. The game is interesting, fun, and succeeds at everything that it sets out to do. If I were to try and sum up its victories in a few points, here’s what I’d start with:

  • Weapon and build variation mean that characters feel much different within minutes of each run.
  • The core gameplay loop sits at around thirty minutes, which is perfect.
  • Story progression (which fits perfectly within the framing device of the game) is tied to death, so you look forward to losses as opposed to the common roguelike feeling of “well, jeez, that was a waste.”
  • Metaprogression (both in terms of your character getting stronger between runs and the difficulty scaling up in the postgame) is incredibly smooth and elegant.

The plot, setting, voicing, and art direction are all just really good and, again, tie in extremely well with the story. I’m at a loss to say what can be improved about it: the runs started feeling a little repetitive towards the end, and some of the currency/story unlocking is stingy, but it’s just an incredibly good game and one that I look forward to playing more of down the line.

...So why isn't it a 10? Because it didn't consume my life, I guess. The two most recent 10/10 games I played were CrossCode and Slay The Spire, both of which I daydreamed about and spent shower time thinking about and never wanted to end. Hades...didn't hit me that way.

✭✭✭✭✭
10/24/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/3257448d6301633ba3fd3b94162471ad/c8a15ff0/evo.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=5c839ea680360f2d
Evoland

I struggle to think of anything too positive about this game besides the fact that it is mercifully brief. The entire conceit revolves around it hitting you over the head with references to the gaming canon, which is cute and sweet at first but it manages to get stale in, like, two hours of gameplay. Perhaps this is an issue of mismanaged expectations: if I had played this like a flash game I think I would have been impressed (and that's really the way to gauge it), but treating it like an "actual" game means it fails pretty much any test you give it. (One legitimate nicety, though — they did a good job with the graphics!)

✭✭
9/7/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/6fd6ddf5293703fdcc6e700cd7d00a34/6b6b5912/2020-08-0814.33.06.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=0ec378b152e0763b
CrossCode
JRPG

Okay, the game has flaws.

It’s overtuned and overstuffed; dungeons should be half the length, a third of the quests should be removed, and the challenge is clearly calibrated for folks who have spent three years on the engine. (I call this “early access syndrome” — releasing to passionate beta users both gives you the privilege of adding a bunch of new content because it’s easy and you don’t have the time pressure, plus it means you’re building content for experienced players rather than novices.)

The middle third of the game (everything surrounding Gaia’s Garden, basically) is rough and frustrating and caused me to quit the game once and put it down a second time.

But, man. The first fifteen hours of this game is the most pleasant I’ve had in a game maybe ever. It hits all of my nostalgia points — the faux MMO nature reminds me of MapleStory, the characters and writing is warm and charming, and the core gameplay is just so goddamn fun. I love the platforming; I love the trading and progression; I love the grinding on hedgehags.

This isn’t a perfect game but I can’t remember one that has highs quite as high as CrossCode.

✭✭✭✭✭
8/8/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/c5a98fddc35852bec8f9dcb738abaaaa/37540ae2/xenoblade.jpeg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=6c9f37d567679bfa
Xenoblade Chronicles

Hmmm.

On the one hand, Xenoblade grabbed me really hard. I have fond memories of playing through it in 2012 — in Seattle for the first time — and being blown away, though ultimately I drifted away a little and never finished it. I was blown away by the scale and scope of the game — an MMO, but as a JRPG!

When the remaster came out for Switch, I was excited to finish it, and I'm glad I did. The quality of life improvements are dramatic, and propelled me through the first half of the game handily: "listen to podcast, grind and handle a bunch of simple quests" might sound bad, but it's a very nice gaming mode for me to be in, so I loved that.

I really faded in the last third or so, though, even though I thought the aesthetics and environment were at their peak. I'm not a big RPG completionist but I sped through the ending pretty much as quickly as possible, and after some self-examination I think the reason is simple.

There's no point to doing pretty much anything in the game. The most important variable in battle is your level: if you want to do better, level up. This is so drastically less interesting than a game with parallel grinds (crafting! exploration! arts!) etc, and as soon as you shatter the illusion that all these subsystems actually matter you're left sighing, finding the optimal party to one-hit things with combos, and rushing through the cutscenes.

✭✭✭
7/11/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/e6994ed0c3bc8927c2cca51fdd1b83fe/c0e1b745/capsule_616x353.jpgt1519180228?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=f2f529894ec655c1
Ara Fell
JRPG

A pleasant, short JRPG throwback with some clever affordances (particularly around equipment progression) and a truly braindead plot. Nice as a palate cleanser!

✭✭✭
5/17/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/ccb87ee677f30dedc33621fbce12fd5a/d4e80773/81lSSQv99NL._SY445_.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=330beb4d1d4b02dd
Diablo III
Hack and Slash

A perfect brain-smoothing game. Hold down buttons and watch demons explode and numbers go up. A little short (a friend and I maxed out co-op in two weeks), but really enjoyable!

One of the things that I think Diablo III does very cleverly (and that is now part of the genre, at least based on reading up on Path of Exile) is that they recognize the fun part of the game is the power creep and going from level 1 to being a whirlwind of carnage, which is why they've set up a seasonal system: every few months, all of your characters get wiped from online (moved strictly to offline so you don't lose anything), and you restart in the exact same game except with a couple season-specific tweaks and bonuses (extra treasure goblins, say, or more critical hits.) It keeps the game fresh because there's so little to do once you've hit the asymptotic part of the power curve but the journey is more fun than the destination.

✭✭✭✭
5/15/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/5870997b22d2b28c181be43ec373116a/34168ac8/screen-shot-2019-09-26-at-11-29-49-am.png?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=b3a2ef644636e8fc
Final Fantasy VII Remake

I didn't think you could remake a game with twenty years of nostalgia and weight behind it and have it be as good as this was.

✭✭✭✭
5/13/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/863fa73f8cfd4a016838ae5e9c5b2778/31a7ff99/71lz62-F84L._SY550_.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=e40cb58cc003ad8d
Pokemon Shield
JRPG

I found this game both objectively bad and unchallenging (discounting the metagame, which I don't dabble in) and also weirdly enchanting. The Wild Area is great! That should be the entire game!


I'm playing this four months later, having downloaded the expansion pack DLC with my partner, and... kind of the same as above? It's frustrating to me how many good parts of this game there are (collecting Pokemon is just inherently fun, the game is cute and charming albeit slow) — why isn't this an entire MMO or experience?

✭✭✭
4/28/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/aa6b42aaa3e5ea084ce6b945f3d4d189/e63370e6/81-FD3tzUlL._SY445_.jpg?ts=1656358003&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=e46d200ef2f301e8
Luigi's Mansion 3

A fun game that I loved playing with my partner — but fuck that sewer level.

✭✭✭
3/1/2020
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/d7575f4b79f6adf217bffe92f55be400/8c11ae95/maxresdefault.jpg?ts=1656358002&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=ee46ebec3f3514d6
Minit
✭✭✭✭
12/10/2019
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/67bd6183e4664460157a35945481baea/c39ae3b9/81pJUhFcYqL._SL1500_.jpg?ts=1656358002&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=e8e819a8160aee8e
Dragon Quest 11
✭✭✭✭
11/28/2019
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/f461e6471973920e289d05ea4db0dbde/dceb893c/latestcb20200221221108?ts=1656358002&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=ea8b195c793ccfaf
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
✭✭✭✭
9/2/2019
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/60208eb50d7589a71c122a37d5559085/c5a0ea35/Slay-the-Spire?ts=1656358002&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=51ba7bdc6e0fbc9a
Slay the Spire

In lieu of more to say, I think this is the most well-designed game I've ever played. The size of a given session is perfect for me (45-75 minutes); the difficulty curve is elegant and sloping; variety is strong. I have poured at least a hundred hours into the game and could see myself pouring a hundred more.

If you're looking to improve dramatically, I recommend watching jorbs who streams on the highest difficulty. His gameplay both radically improved my skill with the game and taught me a lot about how to approach games writ large.

Health as currency

The easiest way to improve your character is to fight elites (monsters who are stronger than normal but offer better cards and items as well as more gold); elites are, as one might imagine, much more dangerous. There’s a balancing act here: when progressing through an act, you might get to choose between one of three paths: one with one elite fight, one with two elite fights, and one with four elite fights. The path with one elite fight gives you a high chance of survival but a relatively small improvement to your character’s power; the path with four elite fights will dramatically improve your character but you risk dying.

One of the key strategies of the game is essentially a Umeshism — if you’re ending every act with full health or trying to end every turn with complete block, you’re not being aggressive enough. StS is a game where you need to treat your health as a currency that you spend to improve your character.

In one of many clever touches by the game designers, this is made explicit in the Ironclad’s starting bonus, which allows you to regenerate health after each fight — not a large amount of health, mind you, but enough to incentivize “blocking with your face” and being aggressive rather than turtling your way to victory.

✭✭✭✭✭
5/20/2019
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/d562d823c1d2ec5ebcd4207e15bbd8b8/c2d1ea98/Battle-Chasers-Nightwar?ts=1656358002&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=1c5c727571840c4c
Battle Chasers
✭✭✭
4/26/2019
No image.
Anodyne
✭✭✭✭
3/6/2019
No image.
Gris
✭✭✭✭✭
12/20/2018
No image.
Donut County
✭✭✭✭
8/29/2018
No image.
Gorogoa
✭✭✭✭✭
6/25/2018
No image.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
✭✭✭
3/3/2018
No image.
Link to the Past
✭✭✭✭✭
2/15/2018
No image.
Pokemon: Soul Silver
✭✭✭
11/27/2017
No image.
Super Mario Odyssey
✭✭✭✭✭
11/16/2017
No image.
Pokemon Prism
✭✭✭
11/5/2017
No image.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
✭✭✭✭
10/28/2017
No image.
Pocket Mine 3
✭✭✭
10/2/2017
No image.
Cat Quest
✭✭✭
9/28/2017
No image.
Device 6
✭✭✭✭✭
9/19/2017
No image.
Riviera: The Promised Land
✭✭✭
9/13/2017
No image.
Final Fantasy XII
✭✭✭✭
8/20/2017
No image.
Earthbound
✭✭✭✭✭
8/1/2017
No image.
Monument Valley 2
✭✭✭✭✭
7/15/2017
No image.
Persona 5
✭✭✭✭
7/15/2017
No image.
Final Fantasy IV
✭✭✭
3/30/2017
No image.
Wild Arms 3
✭✭✭✭
3/25/2017
No image.
Final Fantasy X
✭✭✭✭✭
2/15/2017
No image.
Suikoden II
✭✭✭✭
11/10/2016
No image.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
✭✭✭✭✭
11/7/2016
No image.
Chrono Trigger
✭✭✭✭✭
11/7/2016
No image.
Final Fantasy VI
✭✭✭✭✭
11/7/2016
No image.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2
✭✭✭✭✭
3/21/2016
No image.
Final Fantasy Tactics
✭✭✭✭✭
3/1/2016
No image.
Final Fantasy V
✭✭✭✭✭
1/1/2015
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/ccaeaf7ffc8bbd55ec7b95856910cf72/d2771421/xiv.jpg?ts=1656358002&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=b76d78e447004206
Final Fantasy IX
JRPG

I’ve noticed that if I want to give something a perfect score but know that it’s not a “perfect” thing, I always start off with “okay, so, it has flaws.”

Final Fantasy IX has flaws. The battle system is extremely slow; three of the eight characters have near-zero characterization; technical limitations mean the final disk is a shadow of the world.

But everything else is perfect. The world is the most charming game-world ever committed to Final Fantasy. The theatrical motifs are delightful; the minigames and sidequests are fun without being overbearing; the progression system is smart without being fiddly. (And the music is great, too!)

When I think of being a kid and playing RPGs and being transported into a different, fantastic world, Final Fantasy IX is what comes to mind.

✭✭✭✭✭
1/1/2014
No image.
Golden Sun
✭✭✭✭
5/2/2011
No image.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
✭✭✭✭✭
1/1/2011
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/4038f668c4f705a88b9f8b93eef45526/d098401b/ffi.jpg?ts=1656358002&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=d82c9bd3b7b1e198
Final Fantasy
JRPG

The game certainly shows its age, I can tell you that much. (I played Dawn of Souls, which was the slightly easier remake, and even then it was a bit of a slog.) It’s short, though, and it’s I think worth playing for its place in the canon.

✭✭✭
1/1/2008
https://dl.airtable.com/.attachments/de77f2096e377ee47361215ebc4e4d0d/10f405f7/Unknown-10?ts=1656358002&userId=usrCBA8uInu6jO3n2&cs=a7f31567795105b3
Triangle Strategy
Strategy RPG

This game could have been something special. I really think that. It feels like for every great decision that went into it, a poor one had to follow.

Let's start with combat. It's hard to hit the highs of the FFT series, and this game does a few things well. Characters feel distinct, and the TP system is really good, but character progression is barely existent. There are two systems ("promotions", which are linear and serve basically as a way to gate progress, and "weapon upgrades", which are resource sinks and allow a bit more agency) that pale in comparison to just leveling up your guys because the damage formulae are so reliant on level. That being said, the combat itself is pretty fun! There's a lot of emphasis on positioning and tactics that feels rewarding; the difficulty curve on Normal was wonderful for me and you never break the game over your knee. But the joy of these games to me is beating the engine at it's own game, and I never really felt like I got to do that: it didn't feel like any character customization mattered, since the overriding emphasis was just making sure folks were leveled up.

The plot and characters were solid. This game owes a lot to FFT and Tactics Ogre, and I think the bones of the setting are unimaginative but fun — you've got three nations with three different systems in a war over resources, hijinks ensue. Literally every single character in this game (besides a scant few, like Benedict) are stock stereotypes, and that doesn't hurt that much — you're never taken aback by the plot or the folks in it, but it feels competent and mature.

So, a good-not-great plot and fun-but-flawed combat. Why the low score?

Oh my god, the presentation. Even late into the game you are spending two hours in cutscenes for every hour playing the game. This would not be a problem if the plot was meaty and knotty and there was a lot to digest, but that's not the case — this is a pretty conventional situation. But for every single plot development, you are told the development five times — once in a cutscene, once in an epilogue to that cutscene, three times in optional cutscenes in other areas reacting to that development, etc. etc. It is unbearable.

I didn't touch on the game's main gimmick, which was the branching paths and various choices you had to make. I thought this worked well, even if it faded in terms of emphasis throughout the game (there weren't a lot of callbacks, though I did spend a good amount of time struggling over decisions I had to make.) It wasn't enough to carry the game, nor was it enough to get me excited about another playthrough to go through the paths that I missed.

✭✭✭
No image.
Rocket League
✭✭✭✭✭
No image.
Kirby: Superstar Saga
✭✭✭✭✭
No image.
Song of Bloom
✭✭✭✭
No image.
Planescape: Torment
✭✭✭✭
No image.
NBA Jam
✭✭✭✭
No image.
Night of the Full Moon
✭✭✭✭
No image.
Radiant Historia
✭✭✭✭
No image.
Mario Kart 8
✭✭✭
No image.
Fortnite
✭✭✭
No image.
Ni No Kuni II
✭✭✭
No image.
RuneScape
✭✭
No image.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
✭✭
No image.
Knytt Undergr
✭✭
No image.
Dragon Quest III
© 2022 Justin Duke • 𝑫𝑶 𝒀𝑶𝑼 𝑯𝑨𝑽𝑬 𝑨 𝑪𝑶𝑴𝑹𝑨𝑫𝑬?